About Oud

Speaking of d’Ouds

The oud
The oud is undoubtedly the most important instrument in the classical repertoire.

The Maghreb knows two types: the Andalusian oud (oud arbi / kuitra / ramal ...) and the oud sharqi or machriq (the oriental oud).

the different proportions of the oud:
According to the measurements carried out, the existing ratios between the different proportions of the oud are combined in such a way that the note emitted at the intersection of the body and the some should be for the oud-arbi and one the most interval of kuitra Sixte Major (report 5/3). While for the oud sharqi this ratio is 3/2 fifth.

the different accesses used in the following Arab countries:

The oud sharqi has ten pegs, or eleven or twelve, for the one with six strings.

the 6th complementary string of the oud sharqi can be placed in the high or low.

6-qarar dukah (re), 5 -qarar busalik (mi2) or yakah (sol2), 4- ushayran (a2), 3-dukah (d3), 2-nawa (sol3) and 1-kirdan (do4),
0-jawab jaharka: (fa4)


the two Chords for 11 pegs or 12 pegs on an oud

In the Maghreb the terms for the strings of the Andalusian oud are:
dhil / raghul, hsin, maya, ramal. as for the Maghrebian oud, it uses an embraced chord, the best known of which are as follows: The chord is embraced, that is to say that the succession of strings does not follow the ascending succession of notes: the intervals of the chords successively include an ascending sixth, (IV - III), a fifth below, and finally an ascending fourth: (II - I) starting a tone higher.
Moroccan musicians use three other chords:
increased by a tone (sayid noqta): la, fa déze, si, mi.
Increased by 3 degrees (muthallith): do, la, d, sol
- and increased by a tone compared to the muthallith: d, si, mi, la

The classic sharqi ouds and Andalusian ouds have a fixed and glued bridge. Only the “Iraqi” model is an exception here:
it has a floating easel. Its name comes from its inventor, the Iraqi oud maker Mohamed Fadel.

The oud sharqi (oriental lute) has mostly one large Rosette and two small ones of circular or ovoid shape. The oud arbi has a large o and two circular gills of medium size.

The kuitra rosette is specific and almost always represents a flowery vase which represents the tree of life.

The Diapasons define the intervals and micro-intervals. The sound box and the entire length of the instrument influence the sound color. The smaller the Diapason, the fewer micro-intervals (lighter sound color), the larger the Diapason, the more micro-intervals (darker sound color).

The respective resonance box sizes differ only by a few centimeters. However, when choosing your instrument, you have to take into account your own size and the length of your arms. Common tuning fork for sharqi ouds:
- 58.5 cm. / usual in Turkey and for the Iraqi oud.
- 60 cm. / usual e.g. in Syria and Lebanon.

- 61.5 cm. / usual in Egypt. - 61.5 cm. / common in Egypt.

Arab-Andalusian music

Arab-Andalusian music (الطرب الأندلسي), also called al-ala or al-andaloussi in Morocco, al moussiqa al andaloussia, gharnati, san'â, chaàbi, or malouf in Algeria, malouf in Tunisia and Libya is a musical genre layman, classical or scholar, from the Maghreb,
distinct from classical Arabic music performed in the Middle East
(or Machrek) and Egypt.

Abu El Hassan Ali Ben Nafiq, also known as Ziriab,
created in the 8th century the bases of the noubat, composed of poetic forms such as muwashshah or zadjal (which were one of the sources of the Cantigas de Santa Maria of King Alfonso X of Castile, flamenco and troubadours). This music will also have an influence on contemporary Western music, especially on the works of
Camille Saint-Saëns following his contacts with Algerian musicians,
such Mohamed Sfindja.

The Arab-Andalusian music developed in Spain has spread by forming three major schools which will claim the cultural centers of the Maghreb:
Grenada in Tlemcen and Oran, Nedroma in Algeria - Rabat and Salé, Oujda, Tangier, Tetouan, Safi in Morocco
Cordoba and Valence in Algiers, Béjaïa, Cherchell, Blida and Koléa in Algeria - Fès and Meknes in Morocco
Seville Constantine and Annaba in Algeria - Tripoli in Libya - Kairouan and Testour in Tunisia, La nouba differs from the wasla and the Arab qasida both by its fashions and its forms.

Algerian school:
There are 16 noubat (including 4 unfinished): Al-dhîl - Mjenba - Al-hussayn -
Raml Al-mâya - Ramal - Ghrîb - Zîdân - Rasd - Mazmûm - Sîkâ - Rasd Al-Dhîl - Mâya (Ghribet Hassine - Araq - Djarka - Mûal).
The poetic forms that still exist are: Muwashshah - Zadjal - Msaddar- Shugl (popular sung poem) - Barwal (practiced in Constantine) - Melhoun- El Wahrani (Oran variant of Melhoun)

Libyan school:
The noubat are made up of eight parts: two Msaddar - two Mûrakaz - two Barwal - Khafîf - Khatm. They are composed of the same rhythm, the name of which differs according to the speed of the musical movement.

Moroccan school:
The Moroccan nouba is a series of songs declined in 26 different diatonic modes (tab ’) (not using micro-intervals, except in recent mawwâl), including 4 main ones (Mâya - Al-dhîl - Mazmûm - Zîdân). The 11 noubat are long: Raml al-mâya - Isbahân - Al-mâya - Rasd al-dhîl - Al-istihlâl - Rasd - Gharîbat al-husayn - Al-hijâz al-kabîr - Al-hijâz al-mashriqî - 'Irâq' ajam - 'Ushshâq. They are each composed of five different parts or rhythms (mizan): Basît (including the openings: mshâliya and bughya) - Qâ’im wa-nisf - Btâyhî - Dârij - Quddâm. The poetic forms are as follows: Muwashshah - Zajal - Shugl -Barwal.

Tunisian school:
Compiled in the 18th century by Rachid Bey, it was consolidated in the 20th century by Rachidia. The modes are based on certain Ottoman micro-intervals. The 13 noubat: Dhîl - ‘Irâq - Sîkâ - Hsîn - Rast - Raml al-mâya - Nawâ - Asba‘ayn - Rast al-dhîl - Ramal - Isbahân - Mazmûm - Mâya. They are composed of 9 movements (qut'a, jiz) based on 9 rhythms (iqa): Ishtiftâh or Bashraf samâ’î or Tshambar - Msaddar - Abyât - Btâyhî - Barwal - Darj - Tûshiyâ - Khafîf - Khatm. Poetic forms: Nashîd - Istihlâl - ‘Amal - Muharrak - Muwashshah - Zajal - Barwal - Shugl.

Musical instruments
The instruments used in a typical Arab-Andalusian music ensemble (takht) are:

the riqq or the tar: the Arab tambourine which is the master instrument of the ensemble because it is he who gives the basic rhythm
the naqarat: small timpani struck with chopsticks
the darbouka: chalice, olive wood or pottery drum, covered with goatskin or fish skin.
the oud arbi and the kouitra: the ancestor of the lute
the rebec or the rabâb: the Arabic fiddle sometimes replaced by the violin today
le nay: reed flute with free mouth, six or seven holes
the qanûn or kanoun: zither with many strings, played with tabs on the fingers.



the name the name in German, we find the denomination Qitara or Kwetra. The Grove dictionary recognizes different English spellings: quwaytara, kuwaitara, kūwaytara, kuwīthra, kuwitra, kwītra

The QITARA leaflet describes on “the collection of old Musical Instruments of the Berlin Music College in 1922” 2412. QITARA. Kurzhalslaute mit querriegel und Pickelhaubenförmigen flanckenwirbel; neun späne aus Rotbuche mit Fischbeinadern; in der aufgepflasterten Zedernholzdecke eine große Rose von der Form des Spielkartenzeichen Pique; der Tannenhals bundlos und der Wirbelkasten stumofwinklig abgeknickt; dieWirbel selbst haben Pickelhaubenform. Rohe Arbeit. H (85) 45, B30.5, T15cm (Arabisches N.W Afrika).

According to my research on the kuitra which existed before the 18th century, there are three types of kuitra: loctave with the smallest table between 20.3cm and 21.2cm, septime the average between 27.5cm and 32cm and the sixt between 36.6cm and 43cm.

On peut noter la forme élaborée de la rose de la kuitra, qui est qualifiée de « dessin hispano-mauresque presque toujours en forme de vase fleuri » par Rouanet ; de fleur ou également d’arbre de vie. On pourrait se demander si elle a un rapport symbolique avec ce croquis schématisant une arborescence des différentes gammes modales arabes, en lien avec les quatre humeurs chez l’individu (voir la Fig. 1 : Épître musical, Bibliothèque nationale de Tunis). Ce type de dessin est présent également dans Les Institutions harmoniques de Zarlino, publié à Venise en 1558 pour décrire les relations entre les gammes (Fig. 11).
Fig. 1. Croquis paru dans G. Zarlino, Le Istitutioni harmoniche appresso Francesco Senese, 1562, p. 11, ouvrage conservé à la Bibliothèque universitaire de Strasbourg. (Illustration libre de droits).
Fig. 12. Schéma des liens entre les différentes gammes musicales arabes et les quatre humeurs, paru dans le manuscrit de l’Épître musical, conservé a la Bibliothèque nationale de Tunisie (Illustration libre de droits.)

Les chevalets ont des dessins de trois types :
en cornes descendantes, en forme de serpent, ou en cornes de taureau. Jules Rouanet signale un autre type, plus nettement en forme de moustaches.

accord de la kuitra
La kuitra a huit cordes, accordées deux par deux à l’unisson, et elle est pincée à l’aide d’un plectre constitué d’une plume d’aigle dont le bec, tenu par la main droite entre le pouce et l’index, met en vibration les cordes. Seulement trois doigts de la main gauche sont utilisés pour appuyer les cordes sur la touche sans frettes, et le majeur n’est pas souvent sollicité : uniquement pour les tierces. L’accord de la kuitra est variable, dépendant du mode selon lequel le morceau est joué. L’accord est embrassé,
c’est-à-dire que la succession des cordes ne suit pas la succession ascendante des notes : les intervalles de l’accord comportent successivement une sixte ascendante, par exemple (IV : sol – III : mi), une quinte en dessous, et enfin une quarte ascendante :
(II : la – I : ré) commençant un ton plus haut.(II : la – I : ré) commençant un ton plus haut. On peut citer également l’accord montant do-la pour les cordes IV et III, puis ré-sol pour les cordes II et I, le ré commençant un ton au-dessus du premier do (plutot utilisé dans le Malouf).